I was out on Thursday night, helping run the door and guide the audience on a comedy pub crawl in the Merchant City. This gave me a little insight into how a bit of smart thinking can reap rewards, with the ticket allocation sold twice over and then some. This meant that two crawls would run simultaneously, across three venues. It gave me a chance to see Jellybeen Martinez play to a hundred or more people (last time I saw him there was a tenth or at most a fifth of that), I learned something about John Gavin’s techniques for compering, and I saw Gary Little – whose solo show was the first to sell out, and whose three additional shows all sold out – playing a room while standing on a table to be seen.
On the back of that, I was asked to help run the door at Dram the following night. My Friday evening was spent checking tickets for Alan Anderson’s sold-out Whisky For Dafties show (another shrewd concept, as his show is informative, funny, has international appeal, and is happily sponsored by a huge number of distilleries.) This was followed by a “Best Of SCOTY” showcase, and then a Late N’ Loud show. This final show had six presales, of whom four turned up.
Anderson made the decision to pull the show, refunding those who had come along, and getting all the booked acts up to do “three minutes of their best material” – when he listed their names, he included me. Three minutes of my best material? I have no idea what might constitute my “best.” The show manager from Jongleurs had come along, and for a split second I wondered if I needed to impress him. This was followed immediately by the realisation that I might as well just have fun, not stress about it, and simply endeavour to be funny. To this end, I jotted a few notes on my hand, aiming to do some of the one-liners that constitute what I refer to vaguely as the “relationship” bit.
Adam Ethan Crow later remarked that he found it funny that I read so blatantly from my hand when I needed to find my place. He showed me the notes he had written on his own hand, and explained how he glances at them far more discreetly.
Offering the audience the chance to pick names, Alan brought on Adam, Gareth Waugh, Charlie Ross, and me. Technically, I headlined Late N’ Loud. Except that quite obviously I didn’t, I just went on last. There is a very important distinction to be made there. Not least because I was “built up” as “the one act in this room who is used to only being on stage for three minutes, and more often hears a gong after two minutes and fifty-five seconds.”
Having then been introduced as “Door Guy,” I did the usual stuff about my name, and segued into some of my favourite (and newer) jokes about dating, finishing with the “fish” bit. Then I came offstage, and took drink orders from everyone as Anderson agreed to buy a round for the punters and acts. Despite his self-crafted image, he’s not all cunt.
Terry Alderton stuck his head in, and immediately saw that the gig was off. He had been on at The Stand and had come across to do this gig too. We spoke briefly about his previous gig in this room, at this time last year, where he played to a packed crowd and presented some of the funniest and craziest comedy I have yet seen. Realising that every comic he ever meets probably asks the show manager about playing Jongleurs, I made conversation about his PhD instead. Mostly, I just felt very out of place – surrounded by well-travelled successful acts, various high-profile promoters, and the son of another well-regarded Scottish act.
When the pub shut shortly afterwards, it was decided to head to The Stand to see who was about. I went along for the experience, figuring a knockback at the door (given my low standing in this company) would merely delay my walk home by a couple of minutes. Although not known at the venue, I had a list of words on my hand, the international proof-of-identity that you are a stand-up comedian. There was no issue, and we were allowed in to catch the end of the late show.
I had expected the venue to be shut, and playing host to a small gathering of comics for a post-show drink, but the last show was still going. I stood in a full room, clocking Gareth, Fred MacAulay, Mikey Adams, and Neil “Wee Man” Bratchpiece in my immediate vicinity, and Darren Connell further along at the bar. I stood and watched the bulk of Scott Capurro’s very funny set, as he headlined that show. The distinction I made between headlining a show and simply going on last is a pertinent one.
Afterwards, as the venue emptied of everyday punters, I had a few interesting conversations. Connell gave me some advice about a gig I have been asked to run tomorrow (Saturday 30th March) and the fees expected of a working weekend comedian. Ruaraidh, JoJo Sutherland’s boy, reminisced with me about the weekend I had played The Shack in his native Edinburgh – two of the worst gigs I have ever done, both purely down to me. We spoke of “Secret Dude Society” which filmed recently and which his mum worked for as Audience Warm-Up.
I met and spent a while chatting with Steven Dick, after we discovered a shared appreciation of Frayn’s play “Noises Off” and its filmed adaptation. I learned that Steven works as a writer for a whole host of big names, and that is what (I think) I would like to do – make a living by writing funny lines. I can take or leave the performance aspect of comedy. It was an enlightening conversation, and he gave me some decent advice in how to pursue my writing career – along with the warning that it has taken him a number of years to get where he is now. Definitely food for thought, however.
That was my evening – an unexpected and unusual gig, followed by a series of useful talks with some talented people. I’m very glad that I chanced my arm and headed into The Stand with everyone.